It’s been said before that all politics are local. Recently, local leaders took that adage and applied it to the pursuit for a new energy society.
In a June meeting, city leaders from across the country renewed and expanded a 10-year-old pledge to increase the role of renewable power, reduce reliance on fossil fuels and minimize greenhouse gas emissions. At its 82nd annual gathering in Dallas, the U.S. Conference of Mayors renewed its Climate Protection Agreement, a pledge which was first signed in February 2005.
Much has transpired in those 10 years, and the renewed pledge has many changes to reflect a more aggressive approach to the issue. Conference president and Sacramento, Calif., Mayor Kevin Johnson summed up the collective intelligence by saying, “Mayors are getting smart about sustainability.”
Their pledge calls on cities to do a number of things to address climate change and encourage sustainable-energy practices by using their various powers of government. These include energy and land-use planning, promotion of alternative transportation options, development of renewable resources, prioritizing energy efficiency, and investment in green infrastructure, public education and awareness.
Bill Finch, mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., chaired the task force. He said the issue “is not a cause for mayors. This is a pragmatic problem that requires pragmatic solutions.”
Along those lines, the pledge also encourages federal and state cooperation with local governments to help achieve the goals. It calls on all three levels of government to work together on such objectives as promoting greater energy independence, accelerating energy efficiency, adapting government buildings, and using federal policies and programs to reduce greenhouse emissions.
The conference also highlighted some successful examples of local action, such as a wastewater treatment system that is 100 percent powered by on-site renewable power in Gresham, Ore., and the city of Las Vegas adopting the goal to become the first net-zero city for energy, water and waste.